Sunday, May 15, 2005

Who are the Criminals?

Multiple bombings every day - hundreds dead - no end in sight.

If you’re one of those people who is uneasy using the term “evil,” all you need to do is look towards recent events in Iraq. If strapping yourself with explosives and trying to inflict maximum civilian casualties with the sole purpose of sowing chaos and destroying the only democratically elected government in the Middle East is not evil, I don’t know what is. What we are witnessing (and becoming numb to) in Iraq is religious and tribal extremism taken to levels that are almost unimaginable for us here in America; violence for almost nothing more than violence’s sake.

When I hear of insurgents being killed I feel no remorse, no sadness, only a tinge of frustration that human life, the greatest gift of all, is so easily wasted and put to malicious ends. The insurgents in Iraq, the whole lot of them -- Baathists, Sadaam loyalists, Al Queda, and the other terrorist fanatics -- are the highest form of criminal.

But even though those directly responsible for this carnage deserve the strongest condemnation, the blame for this seemingly unending suffering goes beyond Iraq’s borders and lands squarely in our nation’s capital.

The bottom line: To invade and occupy Iraq with only 150,000 soldiers was an act of criminal negligence and some of the blood of innocent Iraqis is on our leaders’ hands.

(Remember, some very prominent military leaders (including General Shinseki, who recommended troop levels for securing post-war Iraq at over 300,000) were uniformly criticized and marginalized by the Bush Administration.)

Iraq is the size of California, and we have fewer troops stationed there to try to bring law and order to the entire country than the number of cops there are in the Golden State. Think about that. Also, think about this: Sadaam had thousands of large weapons caches scattered around the country and we didn’t have anywhere near the manpower to secure even a small percentage of them. The result is that the insurgents have enough weapons and munitions to wage war for years. The security situation is still so dire two years after the invasion that the main road between Baghdad and the airport is not under either U.S. or the Iraqi government’s control, and it is so unsafe that people are paying thousands of dollars to hire convoys of armed guards just to travel on it.

How could the architects of this war have been so utterly inept? They were the ones telling us that Iraq was going to be the main front against Islamic terrorism in the whole world; that Al Queda would stop at nothing to prevent the Iraq democracy project from succeeding. And for this most important campaign of a generation they decided to go in with nowhere near a sufficient number of troops, and many of these weren’t even provided with basic armor.

Any rational person who takes time to contemplate this, regardless of whether you originally thought the war was justified, can only conclude that our leaders are not only incompetent, but criminally so. And while they enjoy their positions of power, young U.S. men and women will continue to be killed, and Iraqis will continue to die en masse as well.

It didn’t have to be this way.

The decision to go to war is the absolute most serious decision any leader makes, and the least we ask of them is that they take all the necessary precautions and plan for the worst. Instead, we got rationales that switched almost daily, sprinkled with rosy predictions and a “mission accomplished” speech that would’ve made Hollywood proud. And these people still have the nerve to say that everything is going just swell.

J.S.

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